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post #1 of 199 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 12:00 PM Thread Starter
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Planted Discus Tank

I decided to get back into a FW tank after switching to salterwater/reef ten years ago. I wanted a discus tank, but quickly decided that I also wanted live plants as well (plastic plants just don't do it for me, lol).

So, I setup a 20 gallon tank with two small discus and quickly decided that wasn't big enough once the plants started growing in. I recently setup a 46 gallon bowfront.

Here's the setup:
-46 gallon AGA bowfront
-36" Coralife T5 light fixture (they work great on reef tanks and and have strong PAR readings at the gravel bed, so I thought I'd try them on a planted tank).
-Fluval 404 canister filter (I'm glad I saved it from my reef tank when I added a sump). I have a sponge prefilter to prevent the intake from being covered in leaves, debris, etc.
-Penguin powerhead with sponge prefilter
-Nutrafin CO2 reactor (I was going to do DIY, but I got this cheap and it has a nifty bubble diffuser).
-3" gravel substrate that I supplement with Flourish tabs.
-250 watt submersible heater (I'm wondering if a substrate heater would be better?)

Inhabitants:
-4 discus: two red turquoise, one blue diamond, and one pigeon blood
-15 neon tetras
-2 neon cardinals
-2 glowlight tetras (damn, I'm colorblind and I thought I was netting neon tetras, lol)

I know many people have planted discus tanks, but it's challenging to create an environment that is optimal for discus and plants. My main concern is meeting the discus's needs and having plants that will thrive as well. So, I've tried to pick out plants that will tolerate the warmer temps and lower pH under moderate lighting. I should state that I work part-time at a LFS, but I was hired for my saltwater/reef knowledge, not FW planted tanks, LOL. My co-worker is a biology/horticulture major, so I had him help me pick out plants.

I should also say that I've been in saltwater for years now, so I have to stop assuming that I'd filter my planted tank like I would a reef tank. Nitrates and phosphates aren't bad! Right now, my nitrates are at 10 ppm, but I'll have to keep an eye on that level as my plants grow and strip it from the system. If the fish waste doesn't provide enough, I'll have to dose it I guess.

Speaking of assumptions, I guess I need to remove the carbon from my Fluval. There are four chambers, and I use filter floss, peat granules, carbon, and ceramic bio-rings. I'm running peat because I want to keep the pH at about 6.5 for my discus. Fortunately, the peat doesn't leach too many tanins in the water.

Here's my issue: my tapwater is awful. I have a TDS reading of 465 from the tap, and it's very hard (much too hard for discus from what I've read). Fortunately, I have a RO/DI unit that I use for my reef tanks, so I've been using RO water (I didn't run it through the DI filter because I assumed I wouldn't need a TDS of zero). I use Kent's RO-Right to replenish trace elements and Kent's pH Control-Minus. I read that using RO water alone without any buffer would cause too much of a pH fluctuation since I have plants and I add CO2 to the tank.

But...and a big but, I've also read that RO water isn't necessarily good for planted tanks because it strips too many trace elements from the water. When I setup this 46 gallon, I did use about 10 gallons of tap water, and the rest was RO. My pH is 6.7, and it's remained stable (I don't know if the peat is working, or if it's even worth it to use it). I really don't like the idea of using tap water because the TDS is so high and it's full of lime/calcium. I've had to replace my tank housing my reef because I was lazy and used tap to top off too many times (before I got a TDS meter and realized just how horrible it was) and I ended up with nasty mineral deposits on the glass that I could not clean off. I'm worried that if I use too much tap water on my 46, that I'll have the same problem with the glass hazing. Since I have the RO/DI filter already, is it ok to use that with a pH buffer to keep it from fluctuating?

So, here are some pics. I'm sorry they're not the best quality. I finally figured out how to use my damn camera to get decent pics of my reef tank, and now I'm trying to figure out how to get decent pics of my planted tank, lol.

Full tank shot:


My discus (the pigeon blood is hiding in the corner):


A close-up of one of my red turquoise:


If you see anything that looks amiss, please let me know. I'm still trying to learn the names of all the plants in my tank (my co-worker spouted off all the names while we were bagging them, but I have the memory of a tetra. I have 14 different plant species right now, and I've tried to arrange the taller plants in the background and small plants in the foreground while trying to create an assymmetrical aquascaping. Any feedbacks and suggestions are great. Thanks!
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post #2 of 199 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gawain1974
I decided to get back into a FW tank after switching to salterwater/reef ten years ago. I wanted a discus tank, but quickly decided that I also wanted live plants as well (plastic plants just don't do it for me, lol).
Cool welcome back. You tank looks good. You appear to be doing a good job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gawain1974
So, I setup a 20 gallon tank with two small discus and quickly decided that wasn't big enough once the plants started growing in. I recently setup a 46 gallon bowfront.
Yah thats way to small.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gawain1974
Here's the setup:
-46 gallon AGA bowfront
-36" Coralife T5 light fixture (they work great on reef tanks and and have strong PAR readings at the gravel bed, so I thought I'd try them on a planted tank).
-Fluval 404 canister filter (I'm glad I saved it from my reef tank when I added a sump). I have a sponge prefilter to prevent the intake from being covered in leaves, debris, etc.
-Penguin powerhead with sponge prefilter
-Nutrafin CO2 reactor (I was going to do DIY, but I got this cheap and it has a nifty bubble diffuser).
-3" gravel substrate that I supplement with Flourish tabs.
-250 watt submersible heater (I'm wondering if a substrate heater would be better?)

Inhabitants:
-4 discus: two red turquoise, one blue diamond, and one pigeon blood
-15 neon tetras
-2 neon cardinals
-2 glowlight tetras (damn, I'm colorblind and I thought I was netting neon tetras, lol)
This sounds much better. I wonder how discus look on the bowfront. How do you measure PAR? I would advise not to use the substrate heater...from reading you will see this isnt a good thing and most likely a waste of money. An external heater like the Hydor is more appealing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gawain1974
I know many people have planted discus tanks, but it's challenging to create an environment that is optimal for discus and plants. My main concern is meeting the discus's needs and having plants that will thrive as well. So, I've tried to pick out plants that will tolerate the warmer temps and lower pH under moderate lighting. I should state that I work part-time at a LFS, but I was hired for my saltwater/reef knowledge, not FW planted tanks, LOL. My co-worker is a biology/horticulture major, so I had him help me pick out plants.
Yes its challenging but it sounds like you care...thats the most important thing. You also have the right equipment....which is basically the RO. I just went through all of this after finding the optimal water for fish only. I am now coming around to having my plants grow a bit with keeping algea at bay.

Quote:
I should also say that I've been in saltwater for years now, so I have to stop assuming that I'd filter my planted tank like I would a reef tank. Nitrates and phosphates aren't bad! Right now, my nitrates are at 10 ppm, but I'll have to keep an eye on that level as my plants grow and strip it from the system. If the fish waste doesn't provide enough, I'll have to dose it I guess.

LOL this should be a huge change.


Quote:
Speaking of assumptions, I guess I need to remove the carbon from my Fluval. There are four chambers, and I use filter floss, peat granules, carbon, and ceramic bio-rings. I'm running peat because I want to keep the pH at about 6.5 for my discus. Fortunately, the peat doesn't leach too many tanins in the water.
I would remove the carbon also. Peat? Your using RO right? If I understand things correctly peat is for those who dont use RO.

Quote:
Here's my issue: my tapwater is awful. I have a TDS reading of 465 from the tap, and it's very hard (much too hard for discus from what I've read). Fortunately, I have a RO/DI unit that I use for my reef tanks, so I've been using RO water (I didn't run it through the DI filter because I assumed I wouldn't need a TDS of zero). I use Kent's RO-Right to replenish trace elements and Kent's pH Control-Minus. I read that using RO water alone without any buffer would cause too much of a pH fluctuation since I have plants and I add CO2 to the tank.
Yep its aweful. Dont use RO/RIght use Equilibrium or Barr booster?....the cheaper alternative to Equilibrium. I had my luck with RO/Right keeping a rock solid parameters but Ive moved to Equilibrium because of the plant friendly ingredients. Your nuts for using a pH down additive, are you kidding me? I dont add anything but Carib-Sea's crushed coral with aragnite. A very small pouch will keep you straight....forget that pH down junk use RO with co2. If your not going to change your water at all or pay attention to parameters at first this may not be the best thing for you. But you sound like your ready, the pH will supposedly crash. Mine hasnt.

Quote:
But...and a big but, I've also read that RO water isn't necessarily good for planted tanks because it strips too many trace elements from the water. When I setup this 46 gallon, I did use about 10 gallons of tap water, and the rest was RO. My pH is 6.7, and it's remained stable (I don't know if the peat is working, or if it's even worth it to use it). I really don't like the idea of using tap water because the TDS is so high and it's full of lime/calcium. I've had to replace my tank housing my reef because I was lazy and used tap to top off too many times (before I got a TDS meter and realized just how horrible it was) and I ended up with nasty mineral deposits on the glass that I could not clean off. I'm worried that if I use too much tap water on my 46, that I'll have the same problem with the glass hazing. Since I have the RO/DI filter already, is it ok to use that with a pH buffer to keep it from fluctuating?
Yah BIG BUT...plants need things in the water. RO takes those things out. You have to put them back in....if done why wouldnt this be even better?

Quote:
So, here are some pics. I'm sorry they're not the best quality. I finally figured out how to use my damn camera to get decent pics of my reef tank, and now I'm trying to figure out how to get decent pics of my planted tank, lol.

A close-up of one of my red turquoise:

If you see anything that looks amiss, please let me know. I'm still trying to learn the names of all the plants in my tank (my co-worker spouted off all the names while we were bagging them, but I have the memory of a tetra. I have 14 different plant species right now, and I've tried to arrange the taller plants in the background and small plants in the foreground while trying to create an assymmetrical aquascaping. Any feedbacks and suggestions are great. Thanks!

I still dont know the names of my plants. I think your stuff looks really good. Do you know how old your discus are? What are you feeding them?


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post #3 of 199 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 02:12 PM
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It looks like a good setup. How many watts is the 36 T5? It seems a bit low...but most of the plants you have should be fine, except for the Cabomba (or similar looking plant in back right corner).

The fish look healthy and much happier than being crammed in a 20

What is your temperature? I've been playing with mine between the 86-90 range. After the last month at 90, I've decided to back it down to about 86. I just introduced some mosses (Weeping and Chrismas) and they're showing signs of stress.

Finding plants that tolerate high temps will be challenging, but IME, there needs to be a good balance of co2, lights and ferts. Right now I have in my tank: Bylxa japonica, vals, Sagittaria, red tiger lotus, H. difformis, H. balsamica and Crypt spiralis (and the two mosses I'm trying to recover). I also was successful with Nymphoides taiwan.

Trial and error will be the way to go with high temps and discus.

Good luck and keep us informed!

Re-boot!
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post #4 of 199 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 02:44 PM
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I have been keeping discus for 15 years now and plants in the tank for only 6 months. First off, discus like temps 84-86. If they are adults, (4" or more), then 84 is good enough unless treating them for certain diseases.

That said, you can safely keep them healthy in a PH of up to 8.2. Yes, 8.2 unless you are trying to breed them. Then you need to think of lower PH until they are free swimming. As far as RO, it is really only necessary if you have water the equivilant of rock, unless again you are breeding.

Adding peat is a waste of money. You dont need it. I suggest you do some reading on a discus site for more info so you can better decide what is best for what you are trying to accomplish. Alot of the literature out there is old school and more for wild discus and not domesticated. A good site is www.simplydiscus.com.

Your plants and tank look awesome!!!! Your discus look like healthy good specimens. I think you have made some great choices!!! Keep us informed with your experiences!

Marilyn
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post #5 of 199 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marilyn1998
I have been keeping discus for 15 years now and plants in the tank for only 6 months. First off, discus like temps 84-86. If they are adults, (4" or more), then 84 is good enough unless treating them for certain diseases.

That said, you can safely keep them healthy in a PH of up to 8.2. Yes, 8.2 unless you are trying to breed them. Then you need to think of lower PH until they are free swimming. As far as RO, it is really only necessary if you have water the equivilant of rock, unless again you are breeding.

Adding peat is a waste of money. You dont need it. I suggest you do some reading on a discus site for more info so you can better decide what is best for what you are trying to accomplish. Alot of the literature out there is old school and more for wild discus and not domesticated. A good site is www.simplydiscus.com.
Ive been keeping Discus for about 6 months. Ive probably researched them longer then Ive had them.

Discus are soft acidic water fish.

Anything over 7 pH is alkaline, I would not recommend putting Discus into alkaline water..regardless of breeding or not...wild or tank raised.

I for one would not be proud of acclimating a fish to a certain parameter....on the other hand I am proud I alter the parameter to meet my fish's needs.

IMHO your Discus are going to come from someone keeping them in the correct parameters so I would plan for the correct parameters.

As far as simplydiscus goes..IMO its full of misinformation. I would go elsewhere for good information. I could tell you more in a private message about what I learned.


Its actually pretty comical the advice the "new school" discus keeper has to offer.

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post #6 of 199 (permalink) Old 06-30-2006, 04:25 PM
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Neat looking tank~! It looks a little dark though to be planted.Also,you may wanna tie some moss on your wood to give it a more natural look. Just a question,in the last picture,how did you make the colour of your red turquoise stand out so well? Does it have anything to do with the lighting? I also keep discus in my 100gal but their colours do not appear as nicely as yours. More often than not,i would see their vertical bars rather than their turquoise colour which is somewhat faded and hidden.
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post #7 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 12:17 AM
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I am not a great orator or debater, but Brilliant, even though your 6 months experience raising discus in lower PH may prove you well, I doubt you can show any experience in what the end result of a lifetime for that discus will show.

Jack Wattley, one of the pioneers of discus agrees that PH for discus, unless breeding them, is good even into the high 7's. Andrew Soh, author of Discus, The Naked Truth, also agrees that higher pH is not harmful to the discus.
On the other hand, PH fluctuations from trying to fight your water to constantly LOWER your natural PH does more harm than good. It is also time consuming and expensive.

I have discus that are 9 years old, never sick, and been in PH 7.2-7.6 all their lives. As far as where you buy your discus, MANY breeders in the USA and Canada keep their PH between 6.8-7.6. THe trick is, when acclimating them, to not let the PH adjust MORE than .5 in a short time. I buy discus only from breeders that are known to have quality fish, and NOT most LFS that use a central filtering system, too low temps, and buy less than average specimens.

That said, I always encourage folks to READ, READ, READ, and do more reading. THen take what you learn and apply it to what you want to accomplish, and what you have to work with. I agree acidic waters are good discus tanks. I also think that PH in the high 7's is not detrimental.

Just my opinion, my experiences, and my attendance at many lectures and emails from very prominent discus breeders from the USA, Singapore and Canada.

Marilyn
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post #8 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 02:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marilyn1998
I am not a great orator or debater, but Brilliant, even though your 6 months experience raising discus in lower PH may prove you well, I doubt you can show any experience in what the end result of a lifetime for that discus will show.

Jack Wattley, one of the pioneers of discus agrees that PH for discus, unless breeding them, is good even into the high 7's. Andrew Soh, author of Discus, The Naked Truth, also agrees that higher pH is not harmful to the discus.
On the other hand, PH fluctuations from trying to fight your water to constantly LOWER your natural PH does more harm than good. It is also time consuming and expensive.

I have discus that are 9 years old, never sick, and been in PH 7.2-7.6 all their lives. As far as where you buy your discus, MANY breeders in the USA and Canada keep their PH between 6.8-7.6. THe trick is, when acclimating them, to not let the PH adjust MORE than .5 in a short time. I buy discus only from breeders that are known to have quality fish, and NOT most LFS that use a central filtering system, too low temps, and buy less than average specimens.

That said, I always encourage folks to READ, READ, READ, and do more reading. THen take what you learn and apply it to what you want to accomplish, and what you have to work with. I agree acidic waters are good discus tanks. I also think that PH in the high 7's is not detrimental.

Just my opinion, my experiences, and my attendance at many lectures and emails from very prominent discus breeders from the USA, Singapore and Canada.
Yah for me so far so good. I just looked its been 3 months. They have ...grown considerably...two have paired up.

I use RO/DI water. The pH is unaltered. I spend more time dosing ferts then anything. co2 dips my pH a little bit. I use a tiny crushed coral pouch in the filter. I change water weekly. Nothing extraordinary.

When I saw Jack Wattley I did not happen to hear him suggest that. I noted a lower pH and lower temps then suggested elsewhere.

My whole gripe is if people agree that low pH is better...know its better then why not make it better. The fish deserve it...

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post #9 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 02:42 AM
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Nice tank. IMO, treating RO water does more harm than good. I use RO water straight from the barrel, then dose Seachem Excel, Tropica MasterGrow, and PMDD from Greg Watson. All my tanks do fine with this routine.....DC
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post #10 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 04:25 AM
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I have to say the the PH really doesn't matter. Consistency is key. It's best to just keep doing what you are doing. I also know of many Discus raised in harder water doing fine -Now one raised in soft water that is thrown into hard water or visa versa is a different story. The key is to have parameters that the fish are used to. Many books recommend the low PH because this is the natural environment that the wilds come from and the recommendation assumes that the fishkeeper is keeping these fish,but it's misleading because for a fish that may have been raised in a high PH (or for one that was slowly acclimated to harder more alkaline water) that is it's natural environment.

There is no "magic PH" that the fish thrive at. Total BS. The only thing to watch out for in high PH is Ammonia (an issue on new tanks). This is not an issue in acidic environment.

If you have over 2.5 to 3.0 wpg you start getting into the "high light tank" area and you will need pressurized Co2 since DIY does not produce enough consistently.

So far tank looks good though, maybe add a few more plants.

You can keep the carbon. It will quickly become covered with beneficial bacteria after a few weeks and become biomedia.

Take the peat out. Waste of time with RO.

Regarding RO water. Honestly don't get it on a planted tank (take stuff out and then put it back in???), but my water comes out of the tap kh 4 GH 5 so never messed with em too much. KH 3-4 (at least if using Co2) and GH of 5-8 is pretty good for planted tank. Note that your tap water a lot of things your plants need including calcium and magnesium as well as some trace elements. RO is "dead" water. The simplest most economic way to get the "right" KH and GH is to simply blend in your tap water with the RO- Essentially use the RO to "cut" the tap to the hardness and alkalinity (KH) that you want. Don't need EQ, RO right and so on... save your money for fishfood, more plants, Co2...

As far as stocking level, you are really on the high side IMO. I can't believe you had those fish in a 20 gallon before- wow. Discus are dirty fish that unfortunatley require pristine water to thrive. Closely monitor the fish and water parameters. If you notice that they are getting stress bars or you see the nitrates climbing you will want to do more water changes, but I would recommend at least once or twice a week 30- 50% water changes to keep them in good shape at that stocking level.


Best of luck,

Jeff
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post #11 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 05:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for your encouraging and welcoming comments and feedback, I really appreciate it!

First, I just want to clarify one thing: I didn't have all four discus and 15 neons in my 20 gallon! I originally had two smaller discus and five neon cardinals (of which only 2 survived--bad batch from wholesaler). I read Jack Watley's column in TFH where he said that two adult discus could be kept in a 20. However, everyone seems to be of the general consensus that discus do much better in larger groups, so that's why I decided to upgrade. It was only after the upgrade that I added two more discus and the 15 neon tetras.

My discus came from the LFS where I work. The red turquoise had been in the store for several months in a tank that used only RO water with a pH of 6.5 and a temperature of 86 degrees. That's why I want to keep my pH close to 6.5 and I do keep the temperatures at 85-86 degrees. I kept my eyes on these guys since I started working at the store, and while I'm a salt geek, I feel in love with them and knew I had to setup a tank for them. They really are awesome fish...very personable.

YUoHO, you asked how I got the red to come out on my red turquoise pic. It's normally that bright on my fish, but I suspect it has to do with my lighting. I do run one actinic bulb because I noticed that it makes the discus and neons flouresce beautifully, although it provides no benefit to the plants.

I noticed that several have commented that my tank looks dark, and I think the pics are deceiving. I finally figured out how to get decent pics of my reef tank (lit with metal halides and power compacts), so I had to adjust my camera's settings so everything doesn't look too washed out. I didn't adjust my settings, so that might explain why the planted tank looks so dark in my pics.

But, back to my lighting. A member on a reefboard that I moderate is a lighting guru, and he's done all sorts of tests on different types of lights, ballasts, etc. T5s can reach depths of a tank with a higher lumen/par than metal halides, provided the right ballast and individual reflectors over each bulb is used. He uses an underwater PAR meter to get his results. From my understanding, the watt to gallon rule doesn't really apply at all to T5 bulbs. So, I thought I would try a T5 fixture since I got mine for next to nothing. It's only 36 watts, but the amount of light reaching the tank is supposed to be much brighter, in theory.

However, I don't really feel like experimenting since I've got too much time and money invested in livestock and plants. I picked up a 36" Coralife Power Compact fixture tonight at work. It's 192 watts. I'm still going to use the T5 fixture as well. The bulb configuration is as follows: one 96 watt 10K bulb and one 96 watt actonic 03 bulb (this is what came with the fixture). I changed out the actinic bulb in the T5 fixture, so both are now 10K. So, I have 96 watts of 10K PC, 36 watts of 10K T5, and 96 watts of actinic. If I notice that the plants aren't growing well, I'll change the actinic bulb out for another 10K. They were growing well under the 10K/actinic T5 strip, but I wanted to get more light from a source (PC) that I know gives consistent results. I really do hope that I can keep the actinic bulb, because it really does help bring out the color of the discus and neons.
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post #12 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 06:16 AM Thread Starter
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Ok, now I just want to respond to everyone's comments regarding the use of RO water, carbon, and peat.

I'm taking the peat out since I really don't need it. The Fluval has four chambers for media, so I guess I felt obligated to fill them all up, lol. I'll replace the peat with more filter floss. I can take the carbon out as well. Magicmagni, you mentioned that I could leave the carbon in and it will become colonized with bacteria and become a biological filter. I like that idea, and it saves me from having to buy more ceramic rings. I'd still need to change it, right? How often? Every few months? I know in saltwater, you want to change it regularly to avoid leaching organics back into the tank, but it seems that would be ideal for a planted tank. If I'm completely off base, just tell me, and I'll pull the carbon bags out.

My discus came from a tank that had only used RO water. The tap water where I live is extremely hard, full of lime/calcium, and has a TDS reading of 465. If you could see what tap water has done to my sink, shower, toliet, you'd understand why I'm very reluctant to use it. I also had to replace one tank because the tap water caused all this mineral scaling on the walls of the glass. I have my own RO/DI filter installed, so it's no more additional expense (plus, I don't have to pay for water where I live).

My tap tastes like I'm sucking on a wet rock in a swimming pool, lol. So, given that my tap water is extremely hard and full of calcium/lime (enough where I have to use acid to clean the shower/toliet to remove deposits), is it best to use only RO and add the trace elements back in, or should I try using a combination of RO and tap? (I like this idea best since it'll make water changes easier). I suppose this will work only if the combo will keep my pH at 6.7 (since that's what the discus are used to). My tap water is 7.8. I don't really mind if my pH slowly climbs to 7.2 over time, I just want to keep it consistent.

Also, someone asked what I feed my discus. I feed Hei Feng Super Bits (they contain lots of protein and vitamins that are supposed to enhance their colors). I also feed frozen blood worms and mysis shrimp as well.

I picked up some more plants as well, and I'll be planting them soon. I got some more anacharis for the left corner, as well as some green hedge, ambulia, annubia nana, a dwarf lily, and some java moss to attach to that big piece of driftwood.

Thanks again everyone for your time and feedback!

Last edited by Gawain1974; 07-01-2006 at 03:39 PM.
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Ok, I'll try to make this post shorter than my previous two!

Here are some pics of the plants I added tonight:

green hedge:



ambulia:



annubia nana:



I have a few "mystery" plants that I hope you gurus can easily identify. I tried looking them up, but some species look identical to my colorblind eyes. Some days it's a wonder I can dress myself.

Mystery #1:



Mystery #2:



Mystery #3 (I think it's a dwarf red lily?):



Some random shots:

Red ludwigia and hypro (I think???) with some tall "grassy stuff" to the right (nice ID, eh?) and water onions, green hedge, and amazon sword in the foreground:



Blue Diamond Discus:



Blood Pigeon Discus (I don't think his colors have fully matured yet):



A full-tank shot:



Do y'all think I need anymore plants, or should I let these grow in and see how they go? I don't really want to cover the gravel completely since the discus love to graze from the bottom. I realize that I crossed the high-light threshold, so I'll be looking into pressurized CO2 systems (and here all this time I thought I'd only ever be buying a CO2 system for a calcium reactor for my reef, lol).

My next hurdle to jump is fertilizers! I'm so damn confused right now. Gotta love insomnia!
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post #14 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 02:20 PM
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Cool pics...thanks for answering questions.

I wonder if that guy used an Apogee PAR meter...this is what I looked up online. I have metal halide, power compact and T5...From looks I would assume T5 had the least PAR...thats weird.

I think you should get rid of those plants on the left in that last shot. Get some different plants later. There are some great deals here on the swap and shop.

About pH...I dont think there is a magical pH...just one below 7. I dont mean to get all hostile about it I am just passionate about these fish and keeping them in the correct parameters. Hardness also applies here but theres no need to go postal about that when RO is in use.

Speaking of RO...I hope you have a membrane flush valve....if your water is like you say it is...which I am not doubting...I think you should be flushing your membrane constantly for extended life. Being that your a experienced reef guy I think I may be blowing in the wind here.

I think RO water is excellent. Cutting it with tap water is like well...cutting it with tap water. Need I say more?...if this doesnt mean anything to you then you dont get my drift.

Everyone does things differently...I for one dont lke to acclimate my new fish for several hours or days....or have to come up with excuses and "new school" reasoning for my off parameters I would have to acclimate my fish to.

Want to see more...check out my website
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post #15 of 199 (permalink) Old 07-01-2006, 03:58 PM Thread Starter
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Oh yeah, I flush my RO membrane at least once a week, depending upon how often I use it. I have it permanently installed under my sink with a drinking water attachment, which beats the hell outta those Britta faucet filters.

Why should I get rid of the plants on the left side (the anacharis)? Is there something wrong with them, or are they just fugly?

Here's a review he did for the IceCap 4x54 T5 retro system:
http://www.reefmonkey.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3126
I should be more clear: it takes multiple T5 bulbs (4-6, as many as you can cram on the top of your tank) to get the equivalent, or close to, metal halide. He did use an Apogee PAR meter. Also, it's vital that each T5 bulb have its own parabolic reflector. My T5 strip is just a 2x18 watt Coralife, and I don't have individual reflectors on the bulbs, so I figured I'd be better off getting a PC fixture.

Well, after a night of reading all about fertilizers and frying my brain, I went ahead and ordered some dry ferts from www.gregwatson.com. I ordered 2 lbs of potassium nitrate, 1 lb of potassium sulfate, 1 lb of mono-potassium phosphate, and 1 lb of CSM+B Plantex.

If I follow the EI guidelines, I should follow this dosage schedule:
+/- 1/2 tsp KN03 (potassium nitrate) 3x a week
+/- 1/8 tsp KH2P04 (mono-potassium phosphate)3x a week
+/- 1/8 tsp K2S04 (potassium sulphate)3x a week
+/- 1/8 (10ml) Trace Elements (CSM+B Plantex) 3x a week
50% weekly water change


Now, I have a couple of real newbie questions. Do I just add the correct measurements of dried fertilizers directly to my tank, or do I need to dissolve them in water to make a solution first? Also, the CSM+B Plantex contains trace amounts of Iron, along with other micro nutrients, or do I need to dose Iron separately as well?

Oh, and here's an even dumber question: will adding all these fertilizers compromise my water quality? I know I want to keep the water pristine for discus. Or, or these ferts not an issue (as long as I dose properly and don't trigger a massive nuisance algae bloom)? Also, what the hell is BGA? Is that blue-green algae (which is really cyano)? Haha, I feel really dumb asking that one, but it's not on the list of acronyms.

Thanks!
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